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White House internship program selects 4 North Carolina students

Thousands of students applied for the White House Internship program this fall, and of the nearly 150 students selected, four were from North Carolina.

Students from Duke University, Winston-Salem State University and UNC-Wilmington were among those awarded the internship. All selected students recently begun their stints on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The eight-week internship program is offered three times a year and allows students to intern for various offices in the White House, including the Department of Cabinet Affairs and the Offices of Legislative Affairs and Presidential Correspondence.

Thom Rakes, director of UNC-W’s Career Center, said about 6,000 students apply for the internship program each session.

“This program will mentor and cultivate young leaders of today and tomorrow,” said President Barack Obama in a statement about the program in 2009. “I’m proud that they will have this opportunity to serve.”

The program selects students who have shown a commitment to public and community service, said Gary Miller, assistant director for social media and innovation at UNC-CH Career Services.

“They look for someone who is engaged, and usually this means civically engaged,” he said.

Miller said there’s not a recruitment process for the program and students must take the initiative to apply.

Though no UNC-CH students were selected for the program this fall, the University has had students participate in the past.

UNC-CH Student Body President Mary Cooper interned for the Department of Scheduling and Advance for First Lady Michelle Obama in the summer of 2010.

The internship included handling invitations received by the First Lady and volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club, Cooper said.
Karen Kemp, assistant dean for communications and marketing for Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy, said the program benefits Duke’s reputation at the federal level and assists students with job searches.

But Rakes said the internship is more about personal development than future employment.

“People who do really well may receive employment, but that’s not the intent of the internship,” he said. “The goal is to give young people leadership experience.”

Cooper said the internship inspired her future endeavours.
“It was an amazing opportunity and has shown me that I’d like to be involved in public service in some way or another later in life,” she said.

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